Byline: Sharon Edelson

NEW YORK — Capitalizing on the popularity of its Bath & Body Works chain and growing consumer interest in home furnishings, The Limited has begun testing a retail concept called Bath & Body Works at Home.
Bath & Body Works, which has been The Limited’s fastest retail rollout, is being called one of the most successful retail launches in recent history by industry observers. The division reported a 26 percent jump in same-store sales for the third quarter with total sales of $86.6 million.
An indication of Bath & Body Works’ strength is the fact that The Limited included it in its initial public offering, Intimate Brands, which grouped Victoria’s Secret retail and catalog operations, Cacique, Abercrombie & Fitch and Bath & Body Works.
According to a spokesman for The Limited, the company began testing five Bath & Body Works at Home stores this holiday season. They are at the Columbus City Center, Columbus; Lenox Mall, Atlanta, Woodfield Mall, Chicago, and NorthPark Mall, Dallas. Another unit is in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Bath & Body Works at Home stores have separate entrances in the mall, but are connected internally to Bath & Body Works stores.
“That’s how Bath & Body Works started,” the spokesman said.
In fact, the entire concept is an extension of the Bath & Body Works image.
“We’ve taken the Bath & Body Works approach to personal care products and applied it to the living room, kitchen and bedroom,” the spokesman said, explaining that the products are “celebratory accents, such as handcrafted pottery, scented candles and botanicals.”
The stores also carry a selection of linens and tabletop products.
“The theme is an American handmade approach,” the spokesman said. “The store seamlessly carries on the feeling of Bath & Body Works to the home. It has a comfortable design.”
Bath & Body Works at Home comes at a time when much of the apparel industry has seen its fortunes dimming. After several years of lackluster sales, many designers have opted to join the home furnishings crowd.
Gianni Versace and Calvin Klein have begun producing home lines. Guess and Eddie Bauer introduced retail concepts for the home this year and chains like The Gap and Ann Taylor are branching out into the home arena with scented candles and potpourri. Banana Republic is reportedly expanding into soft home furnishings.
The Limited spokesman said the company will review the results of Bath & Body Works at Home after the holidays and then develop a plan.

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